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A circuit session just for you, change the number of times you do the circuit to suit your ability and how much time you have available.
I’ve got 20 minutes to spare? Do each exercise for 30 seconds and just do it once round.
I’ve got 45 minutes or more to spare? Do each exercise for a minute and do the circuit three times.
Not sure how long you should do it for? If you are a regular exerciser, I would recommend 2 circuits of 45 seconds for each exercise.
Whichever version of this circuit you are doing, make sure you have 10-15 seconds rest between each exercise. If you are doing the circuit multiple times, make sure you take a 1 minute rest between circuits.
Keep the arms straight and roll the shoulders forward for about 10 reps. Repeat in the opposite direction. Keep the movements fairly controlled at all times.
Stand with the feet together. Keeping the legs straight flex forward from the hips and try to touch the fingers to the toes. If you cannot reach, go as far as you can without bending the knees. Try to breathe out as you are bending forwards. Perform for about 10 reps.
Stand with the arms out in front and palms together. Move the arms apart and bring them behind you as far as you can as you breathe out. Repeat 10 times. Do not hold the arms in the back position for more than 2 seconds.
Inner thigh opener
Stand with the feet wide apart and with the feet pointed outwards. Start by gently shifting the body weight from one leg to the other as you feel the stretch on the opposite groin. You can increase the intensity a little but remember it’s not meant to be a forceful stretch. Do about 4-5 on each side.
From standing just lift the knees one at a time in front of the body. Perform about 8 on each side.
From standing, put the arms above your head and simply pull them as far behind as you can manage without bending backwards. Breathe out at the top of this movement. Repeat this for around 10 reps.
From standing and keeping the lower back fixed, rotate the upper torso from side to side. Do not rotate the low back for extra range (visualise keeping the belly button facing the front at all times). Complete about 8 on each side.
Light jog on the spot
Jog lightly on the spot for 1 minute (just march for those with any serious impact issues). This will increase the heart rate a little more before moving on to the main body of the workout.
10 STATION CIRCUIT WORKOUT
This is a 10 station circuit. I have listed the exercises in the order I would do them but it’s possible to change it if needed.
1. Mountain climbers
In a full push up position on the floor, continuously run the knees one at a time under the body. Try to maintain a straight body position throughout. The faster you go the harder this will be.
Easier alternative: slow down the pace to make this exercise easier.
Harder alternative: Take the knee slightly to the side as you bring it under the body to engage the oblique muscles.
2. Squats (optional shoulder press)
Stand hip to shoulder width apart with the feet slightly out turned. Squat down to a femur parallel position and then back up as you breathe out. Avoid the knees coming closer together during the movement and do not let the heels come off the floor.
Harder alternative: For more intensity you can add a shoulder press movement at the top if you have some weights available. (If no weights are available, you could use tinned food or a full water bottle).
3. Push ups
Adopt a full push up position. Position the hands only slightly wider than shoulder width apart. Do not have the hands too wide as this puts undue strain on the shoulders. Breathe in as you lower down and then out as you push back up. Control the reps and try to ensure a full range of movement.
Easier alternative: There are two options to make this slightly easier. You can try negative push ups where you lower yourself down all the way to the floor and then simply reset and start the movement again. Or you can do the full push up movement with the knees on the floor.
Harder alternative: You can make the exercise harder by reducing the speed of the movement.
4. High knees
A simple but intense exercise where you run on the spot getting the knees to waist height. If you have impact issues you can keep the knees lower or simply skip this exercise and move to the next one in the circuit.
5. Back raises
Lying on your front put your hands near your head, arms bent. Aim to lift the torso away from the floor in a controlled movement and then lower again. Try to make sure all movements are done smoothly.
Harder alternative: Have the arms in a forward position and lift the legs as well (archer back raise).
6. Lunges or jump lunges
Starting with the feet hip width apart, step forward with one leg allowing the back knee to bend so it comes close to touching the floor. Keep the chest up and do not ‘lean over the front leg’. Control is important so try to decelerate on the way down.
Easier alternative: If you struggle with forward lunging, you can also do it in reverse by stepping the leg behind you instead of in front.
Harder alternative: Try jump lunges. If you do this you must maintain the full range of movement.
7. Oblique twists
Sitting on the floor with the knees bent in front of you and feet on the floor, hold the hands together and rotate the torso from side to side while under full control. The hard part here is avoiding excessive motion around the low back, so try to keep the belly button pointing in the same direction all the time.
Harder alternative: Hold the feet off of the floor while doing the same movement. You can also hold a weight to increase the intensity of this exercise.
Start from standing. Drop down into either a push up or down to the floor on your chest. Get back up again and then do a jump at the top.
Easier alternative: remove the jump element of the workout above
Harder alternative: instead of a normal jump, complete a tuck jump at the top of the exercise.
Adopt a position where you are face down and supported by your forearms and your feet. Your knees should be off the ground and your shoulders above your elbows. You should brace the abs to ensure they are working hard. You should not feel the work in your low back although there will be some work on the shoulders. If you cannot hold the plank all the time, take some rest points during the station or make the time a little shorter. The low back should be in neutral so not excessively dipped or rounded.
Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet hip width apart. Lift the bum away from the floor breathing out to the top of the movement. Push from the lower part of the abs beneath the belly button. This will ensure that you do not excessively arch the lower back.
Harder alternative: For more advanced users perform the bridge in a single leg fashion by having either one leg straight ahead and off the ground, or the knee tucked into the chest. Change legs every rep.
Lie on your front and hold one foot up to the backside. Try pushing your hips into the floor for a more effective stretch if possible. Make sure you repeat on both sides.
Sit and reach
Sitting down, have the legs straight out in front of you. Keep the knees down and reach as far down to the toes as you can. Hold this stretch for 30 seconds.
Chest and inner thigh stretch
Sit down and put the soles of your feet together. Place the hands slightly behind you with the fingers pointing away from the body. Lift the chest and draw the shoulder blades together to open up your chest. At the same time push your knees gently towards the floor, this will open up the inner thighs.
Lie on your back and cross one leg over the other so only one foot is in contact with the floor. Take hold of your hamstring on the leg which is in contact with the floor with both hands. Draw it slightly into the chest to stretch the hip area. Make sure you repeat on both legs.
Lie on your front with the tops of your feet on the floor pressed firmly on the floor. Put your hands under your shoulders a little wider than shoulder width apart, with your arms bent. Keeping your legs on the ground, extend your arms to arch the torso away from the floor and hold. Lift the chin slightly away from the chest.